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Condo-only firm a first in city

Local companies unite to offer specialized service

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Two local firms are trying to take advantage of the surge in condominium development in Winnipeg by launching the city's first property-management company focused exclusively on managing condo complexes.

The new company, unveiled Monday, is a joint venture of Imperial Properties Corp., founded last month by Winnipeg entrepreneur Adrian Schulz, and Winpark Dorchester Properties, which has been in the property-management business for more than 20 years.

The fledgeling firm is starting out with a staff of four, and will operate under the Imperial Properties name. Schulz will be president and chief executive officer and will oversee day-to-day operations, and Winpark will provide the property-management services and possibly some accounting services.

Schulz and other industry officials said it is the city's first property-management firm focusing on condo complexes. The others manage a mixture of properties, including apartment blocks and commercial buildings.

Professional Property Managers Association president Ron Penner said most have a mixture of properties because managing condo complexes is more labour-intensive and less profitable than managing rental properties.

He said the agency for which he works -- Globe General Agencies -- used to manage 12 to 15 condo complexes, but got out of the business about a year ago because its portfolio was too small to achieve the economies of scale needed to provide a high level of service.

"It will be a tough road (for Imperial) for the first while."

But Schulz and Winpark Dorchester president Jeff Rabb said they're confident Imperial can attract enough clients to make it work. In fact, Schulz predicted within two years, Imperial will be the biggest condo-management firm in the city.

However, the vice-president of one of the leading incumbent firms -- Stevenson Management Services Ltd. -- said to achieve that goal, Imperial will not only have to nab a fair share of the new condo developments that come onto the market, but also steal clients away from the bigger, well-established players like Stevenson, Brydges Property Management and Akman Management Ltd.

"I think Imperial has its work cut out for it," Curtis Loewen said.

Loewen agreed that with all of the new developments springing up around the city and the growing number of apartment blocks being converted to condos, there is room for another condo-management firm.

"But there's not enough business to specialize in just one area," he said, noting that in addition to more than 3,000 condos units, Stevenson also manages rental and commercial properties.

Schulz said because it will focus only on condos, Imperial should be able to attract enough clients to make the condo-only concept work.

He said it also plans to offer services condo associations and their members can't get elsewhere. That includes access to a web-based portal condo residents can use to access the latest information from their condo association, including minutes of meetings and financial statements.

Rabb said the new partnership will provide Winpark with an additional source of revenue and a bigger share of the condo-management market without having to recruit new clients and hire a bunch of extra employees.

"We can provide him (Schulz) with a lot of the infrastructure he needs, and he can supply the labour component and we'll grow the business together."

In addition to running Imperial, Schulz is also co-founder and managing director of a Regina-based employee recruitment firm -- Actyl Group Inc. He worked for six years as director of operations for the Winnipeg-based Kitching Group, which owns 14 Subway restaurant franchises, a technology division and a real estate development company.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 5, 2010 B3

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